By Meaghan Baxter
EDMONTON — Shukov may have formed only a little over a year ago, but the Edmonton-based indie-rock band certainly isn’t wasting any time amassing a growing discography. At a point when many groups are just sorting out their first recording, Shukov—that’s “shoe-kov”—has three EPs, a single, and now (as of May 2016) a full-length album to its credit.
“The whole project started with just me recording songs in my room, by myself,” says frontman Tim Biziaev over the phone.
Biziaev began releasing songs as a solo project, which formed the first three Shukov EPs, but gig requests soon presented the need for him to flesh out a band—and fast. He then recruited Tyler Socholotiuk (guitar), Luke Desgagne (bass) and Nick Lehman (drums), guys he’d connected with through the local music scene, to fill in the gaps.
“There was no big Kijiji interview process for it,” he says with a laugh.
No stranger to playing in bands himself—Biziaev played in a punk group back in 2010 that it seems he’d rather forget about, offhandedly recalling its shows as being “pretty stupid”—but being at the helm of one has been a whole new endeavour.
“I brought in guys that are, in my mind, pretty talented, so we all worked together pretty easily,” Biziaev recalls. “Right when we started jamming it was a bit weird because I’d never commanded a band before, so it was weird for a little bit—and then everyone started doing their own thing, pretty much.”
But any uncertainty that came with being the commanding voice behind a new band has since dissipated. Biziaev still finds himself penning the majority of Shukov’s songs, but his bandmates are there to offer input and contribute to melodies; the band’s recently released full-length, healthy somethings, is Shukov’s first album in which everyone was involved in the recording process.
The album’s nine tracks draw from Biziaev’s songwriting past and present, whether that means reimagined songs from Shukov’s previous EPs, older tunes that were part of the band’s live set but never recorded, or brand-new compositions.
“The main thing was that it wasn’t recorded on essentially a potato or something,” Biziaev laughs when asked how he wanted to set the album apart from prior releases. “It was just high-fidelity recordings, and it was everyone else playing their own respective instruments with that. The songs are a bit different, and I think the sound changed a bit.”
In that respect, healthy somethings, which was produced with the help of Ben Fitzpatrick at Dad Shirt Records, evokes more sombre, laid-back melodies than its predecessors—and a far cry from Biziaev’s punk days, which he left behind as his musical tastes changed. Instead, the album is rooted in groovy, atmospheric guitar riffs that serve as an intricately textured foundation for Biziaev’s soft yet captivating vocals.
“I wanted it to be heavier and a little bit less jangly or upbeat,” he explains. “I wanted it to be a little bit more melancholic, because that’s what I wanted out of my sound at that point. I didn’t want it to be dance-poppy.”
Lyrically, healthy somethings reflects on a varied scope of topics tied to the time period in Biziaev’s life in which they were written, but they manage craft a cohesive tone within the album.
“It’s just me trying to investigate my own feelings, and trying to extrapolate and understand them more,” he notes of his songwriting.
Now that Shukov is past the debut-album benchmark, Biziaev says another EP could soon follow.
“We have a handful of songs that we didn’t record that I don’t want to forget, because we don’t really jam a lot,” he says. “I think next we’re going to record an EP with probably four songs on it, so we’ll probably do that with Ben so we have the songs down and don’t lose them.”
See Shukov in Edmonton on August 3 with Cousins and Cham at the Buckingham.AB, Alberta, Shukov, The Buckingham